I was cycling along, heading to meet a friend of mine at a bar one evening last week when I saw a group of people gathered at the side of the road. Curious as to what they were gathered for I looked up, only to see that the second floor of a restaurant was on fire. Now, just for background purposes this is a very busy street that is full of restaurants. To either side of the burning restaurant were other eateries, filled with customers. Like everybody else I stood for a while and watched the fire as it grew in strength. I kept looking at the people in the restaurants to either side and wondered why they didn’t seem concerned – if this kind of thing happened back home fire alarms would have gone off, people would have been evacuated to a safe distance and not a soul would be mad enough to remain in the building!
“Maybe they don’t even know there’s a fire.” I thought.
Right after thinking that, a customer emerged from one of the restaurants, took a look at the fire, weighed up his options and headed back in casually.
It’s at this point I realized – they knew there was a fire; they just had no intention of leaving without finishing their dinners!
As the fire grew in size, one of the windows shattered with the heat, covering the pavement in glittering shards of glass.
The restaurant on the right got everybody in the upper floor out, but continued chilling downstairs. The restaurant on the left carried on as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
It was only when smoke started to enter the restaurants through the air vents that people decided “alright, maybe it’s time to get out.” Even then only about half of the customers left (the others clearly still had tasty treats to finish devouring).
I had to go at this point as I was already running late, so I cycled away only to be passed by three fire trucks and a police car.
At least somebody takes fires seriously here!
Note: Sorry about the shitty pictures – phone cameras don’t take great night shots…